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Mattis recounts how the Marines accepted him even though he twice went to jail

September 8, 2019

Former Pentagon chief and Marine general Jim Mattis told an audience in Washington, D.C., about the mistakes he made as a wayward youth and during the Gulf War.


"I went to jail twice — twice — before I went into the Marines," Mattis said at a book tour event on Friday. "And I would just tell you, the Marines forgave that, too."


Growing up in central Washington state, Mattis was born into a family that loved the outdoors and gave him a long leash to explore the world around him. At 13, he was hitch-hiking across the country and got into a few scrapes along the way.


In his book, Call Sign Chaos, he recalled getting into a fight with three local boys in Montana. The young Mattis would eventually be picked up by a local sheriff who gave him a cell to sleep in for the night before driving him to a rail yard to hop a freight train the next morning.




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